National Geographic : 1934 Jan
THREE-WHEELING THROUGH AFRICA Kano, with a population of about 90,000, is a crossroad of West Africa, the fore most commercial and manufacturing center in the west-central Sudan. Under the flat roofs of the square clay houses the weavers clack away at their shuttles and the tanners and dyers bend over their pots. One street resounds to the clang of the anvil, the next to the thud of the potter's pestle; and out in the markets the traders are buying and selling and swapping and cheating in a dozen different languages. A black, shiny Hausaman plucks at my sleeve and pulls out of his pack a long red blanket of barbaric design. "Look, mastah, look. I sell 'im cheap." "Where's it from, and what's it made of?" " 'E be Timbuktu, mastah. 'Ooman Hausaman,'e make 'im. 'E be-" (frowning and scratching his shaven pate,then bright ening up)-" 'e be-sheep's feathers!" As we conclude the bargain two haughty, masked Tuaregs sweep past in their flow ing blue robes, hunting buyers for their sheep, the hides of which a year from now will be sold in the smart London shops as "morocco" leather (see pages 57, 59). Whe-e -k, whe-e-k, wheek, wheek! Here comes the "boat train," chugging up from the coast, with gramophones, alarm clocks, sugar, and tea. Those big burlap sacks piled in the warehouse? Peanuts; they'll be on their way down to Lagos and England to-morrow. The shriek of the whistle startles a tame ostrich excavating in the dust. She rustles her plumes, lifts her feet in a few quick steps, her body rocking gracefully on her big, springy thighs, and then settles back to her work. Pit-pat, pit-pat, pit-pat, through the dusty street, and her ladyship has to move again. This time it's a caravan of tired little donkeys coming in from Lake Chad with leopard skins and ivory for the Tripoli Arabs who ply across the Sahara; and their owner, jogging along behind, is won dering how much the Salaga merchants up from the Gold Coast will be asking for kola nuts to-morrow. The sun goes down on the flat roofs of Kano, and out by the northern gate of the great mud wall, plop, plop, plop, slow and tireless, the big padded feet of a dozen camels plodding in from the oasis of Azbine Photograph by James C. Wilson YORUBA WOMEN ARE "HEAD STRONG" The load of plantains, yams, and the week's laundry gives her an erect posture. The "picken" furnishes the bustle. The woman's costume is reminiscent of the Gibson-girl period "shirtwaist" and skirt. The men wear flowing robes (see text, page 38).